Tories and censorship of broadcasters: Channel 4 climate debate

Channel 4 hosted a party leaders’ debate on climate crisis yesterday (November 28th).  Two party leaders, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, chose to dodge the debate because they feared further exposure of their respective commitments to climate destruction.

Tory MP Michael Gove, formerly an utter failure as Environment Secretary, tried to trespass into the Channel 4 studio as an uninvited stand-in for absent Johnson.  Gove and Tory party had been informed earlier that invitations to partake in the debate were specifically for party leaders.  Gove’s childish actions were a stunt.  He was accompanied by reality TV contestant Stanley Johnson, father of the Prime Minister.

The motivation for Gove’s silly stunt was to provide spurious justification for a censorious assault on Channel 4 as a response to its news output not being as unbalanced in favour of the Tories as other broadcasters’ output. 

Before the (live) broadcast of the debate Johnson’s Director of Communications Lee Cain, formerly employed as the Daily Mirror chicken, sent a pre-written (before Gove’s pantomime appearance) and absurd letter to broadcasters’ regulator Ofcom complaining about the denial of entry to the debate for Gove. 

The letter – screenshot at foot of blog – misrepresented events leading up to the debate, it selected random quotes from Ofcom’s regulatory code for broadcasters as a ruse to support the complaint and, crucially, chose to omit any reason why Boris Johnson had not accepted his invitation to attend the debate.  Misdirection and concoction were the key components of the letter.

As is normally true in charlatans’ letters such as this, the final sentence was the most pertinent.

If Ofcom takes the view that this matter could not be considered until post-broadcast, I would request that this complaint is assessed subsequent to the broadcast, given the unfortunate precedents that Channel 4’s actions may set.”

The clear message that the chicken man wanted to send, not to Ofcom but to any reader particularly any broadcaster, was to set a precedent of government dictating to broadcasters what should and should not happen in political programming.  The threat was clear.

Lee Cain’s letter to Ofcom

Tories and censorship of broadcasters: Channel 4 climate debate

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